Any dog lover, living in homes huge and small, should be able to love a pet no matter the size of their humble abode. While any dog can live in an apartment with the proper exercise, there are certain breeds known for their gentle temperament and moderate activity level that make apartment living the perfect playground. For the best puppy housemate, of any size, try this guide on proper house manners for all dogs.
Before we get to the Best Apartment Dogs (BAD) countdown, what are the qualities for a good apartment dog breed? Ideally, it would be quiet breeds, those best in small spaces, easy to housetrain, friendly, and adaptable. However, quite like finding the perfect person as a spouse, one would be hard-pressed to find that perfect dog to fit all qualities…but if you could have a breed that fit into just one of those categories, you’re on your way to the perfect partner for your urban home!
Now, what are the qualities of the best dog parent? It is someone who not only adores their pup pet, but understands their needs to care for them appropriately. That’s the great part about knowing your dog’s breed or breed mix, as it’s an excellent indicator to their historical behavior, habits, and requirements. Not only big dogs need exercise…in fact, there are many small to mid-sized dogs, such as Pugs, that need a considerable amount of exercise to keep them healthy and happy. At the same time, a large Newfoundland is surprisingly also an excellent candidate for apartment living, as long as the owner takes him or her on runs and long walks on weekends. For a good guide to dog-walking without hassle, try this course on polite leash walking without any pulling or dragging.
For fun dog tricks to keep you pooch engaged (and your family and friend trilling with joy), use this tutorial for 8 cute dog tricks for your home.
Let’s start with our BAD list, accompanied by loving owners of the spotlighted breed. Please note that this is by no means a comprehensive list, but a beginning to a long list of pets that would love to live with you in your apartment home.
The Darling Dachshund
“Our long hair daschund, Emma, is the heart of our home. The best thing is coming home to Emma. Once she see us, her eyes light up and she gets so excited she runs from one end of the room to the other…which is quite far for our little girl.” –Tiffany H. from Pasadena, CA
Dachshunds make wonderful family dogs in any home. They are small and adapt to any living space, including small apartments. Due to their playful and loyal nature, they are excellent with children, so parents don’t have to worry about the close proximity of their kids and pets. They are even quite the helpers, constantly “helping” their humans with things like tying shoes. They don’t require a large amount of exercise, but the breed is prone to obesity so they need to be exercised regularly, even if it’s just a loop around the block twice a day. They are known to bark quite a bit, so be careful if you have thin walls and a strict apartment complex. Lastly, they are known to be fiercely loyal to usually only one person, so take special care to property train and socialize your doxie, wenier dog, or anything else you want to nickname your adorable Dachshund to ensure they don’t become snappy and anti-social.
The Boston Terrier, Esquire
“The Boston terrier’s nickname is the American Gentlemen and Ace is truly just that. Coated in black and white fur that resembles a tuxedo, Ace is kind, loyal, and honest. He would never touch/mess up /eat/play with anything that doesn’t belong to him. He protects our home and is an absolute sweetheart to children and seniors. We can always count on our little American gentleman to bring joy and love to our family!” -Nancy K. from Los Angeles
Boston Terriers are spunky, sparkly, yet very gentle animals. They are one of the best apartment dogs to have because of the minimal amount of grooming they require and the moderate amount of exercise they need. They are especially great with children and the elderly and have the uncanny ability to melt all hearts with their soulful, loving eyes. Although they are one of the best apartment dogs because of their gentle temperament, they have bursts of hyperactivity that still need to be released by regular walks and jogs outdoors. As for training, these intelligent creatures are easy to work with given the right motivation. As a sucker for treats, they can be easy to train, but be careful that you’re not feeding them too many goodies as they’re known to overeat. Be especially mindful that because they are short-nosed dogs, Boston Terriers can’t cool the air going into their lungs as efficiently as longer-nosed breeds, and they’re much more susceptible to heat stress. Because of their short coat, they can’t stand extremely cold weather either. Even in temperate climates, the Boston Terrier should be kept indoors and training should never involve pulling the dog’s collar because of their respiratory problems.
The most un-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
“Sofie loves nothing more than being held or napping on someone’s lap. It’s so wonderful coming home from work to her adoring face, and she’s even learned to ring a bell anytime she needs to go out to use the restroom!“ –Anna L. from San Francisco
Similar in size and temperament to the Boston Terrier, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is another fiercely loyal breed that needs constant companionship and cuddles. In fact, these apartment-perfect dogs are best for people working from home since this breed loves their humans so much and hate to be apart from them. But don’t be fooled by their love of home…born to be a companion, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed retains the sporty nature of his spaniel ancestors and will definitely keep up with you on long hikes. They’re also quiet, child-friendly, and a wonderful therapy dog. However, as with many toy breeds, this breed can have issues with housetraining. To mitigate this, keep them on a consistent schedule with plenty of opportunities to use do their business outdoors.
The Fast and Not-So-Furious Greyhound
“My dog was so big and my apartment was so small with the tiniest hallway that he had to go into a room to turn around.” -Nick D. from New York City
Surprised? Though the Greyhound is known for its speed and agility, it is also widely known as the “45-mph couch potato”. This breed is the perfect apartment-mate in the most important ways- super easy maintenance with its short, smooth coat, and doesn’t need much exercise –a couple laps around the block and the occasional run is all that they need! The rest of the time, they just love laying around in soft spots close to their loved ones. This makes them the perfect candidate for any home, even the smallest ones.
Le bouledogue français AKA The French Bulldog
Quiet and playful (unless confronted with an unexpected visitor), the French bulldog is an excellent choice for city dwellers who live in small apartments and condos. This breed satisfies both the appearance and physical maintenance of an ideal apartment dog: short, easy-care coat and doesn’t need a great deal of exercise. Be sure you can keep him in air-conditioned comfort, however, because his pushed-in snout makes him susceptible to heat-related collapse. If you’re a French Bulldog parent, you’re also a lucky owner of one of the most photographed dogs in the country! Cherish your memories of your darling with this guide on photography and Photoshop retouching skills for your dog.
The “Aussie”: Australian Terrier
The “Aussie,” as it is affectionately known (but not be mistaken by its cousin, the Australian Shepherd), is one of the smallest in the Terrier Group and a complete sweetheart. Though they are small, these terriers are tough little guys and girls with boundless energy and extremely loyal and affectionate to its immediate family. They are remarkably intelligent and make very responsive and protective companions. Despite their size, they are one of the best watchdogs with incomparable hearing and eyesight, and one of the most obedient and easily-trained out of all its terrier cousins. However, they still retain their natural terrier instincts and will chase small animals outside the house and should be in a safe area at all times. Socialize this breed well, as they are territorial and need to be taught the appropriate rules. They will also need proper training to control their barking, as they’re known to chatter quite a bit.
The Great Dane Surprise.
“Sometimes, I don’t even remember that he’s there because he’s so quiet! And then I’ll catch my daughter tugging at his ears and he just looks at her adoringly and takes it because he loves her.” –Megan O. from Orange County
If you were surprised by Greyhounds being on this list, this is the real shocker. A Great Dane may seem like the very last dog breed you’d think would thrive in a tiny apartment, but for all of his size, a Great Dane is a sweet, affectionate pet. He loves to play and is very gentle with children. These gentle giants are content to just hang out all day on couches, rugs, and beds. Great Danes are also remarkably quiet…no more worries about neighbors complaining about the barking! And since they’re easily trainable, you’ll be able to work through any behavioral problems you might encounter. Apartment life with one of these sweet Great Danes are bound to be simply wonderful.
Can’t resist that Pug mug!
Pugs are hugely popular dogs among city dwellers and you’ll catch many of them at urban dog parks. They are highly affectionate dogs and will loyally follow you around your apartment all day long. They can be high-energy, meaning they will need to be exercised with short walks, but that’s all they need before sinking into long naps. But because of their short noses and folds in their skin, they will require regular grooming and air conditioning. They will also be snoring quite a bit, but a small investment in earplugs is nothing when you get to wake up to their adorable, loving faces every morning!
Bichon Frise, Ooh la la!
Resembling a Maltese (which is also another good candidate for BADs), Bichons are very low-maintenance, despite that fluffy white coat. French for “curly white lap dog”, they are indeed happiest curled up in laps and close to their owners. Weighing anywhere from 10-20 pounds, they are easy to keep indoors and easy to train. They are also considered an allergy-friendly dog that has been bred to work well with humans who are allergic, shedding little given the amount of fur that they have. However, they are prone to auto-immune diseases and should be kept on close observation for early warning signs. Daily minimal exercise (but maximum play!) should be implemented to keep this pup happy and healthy.
Now that you’ve got your short-list of the Best Apartment Dogs, we encourage you to research more on your own and find the breed that will be best for you! If you were hoping for a dog breed on this list that you didn’t find, please check with your local vet or animal-enthusiast for their recommendations. Happy hunting!